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French GP: Post Qualifying press conference

NEWS STORY
30/06/2007

Felipe, a great resurgence and recovery from Ferrari.
Felipe Massa: Yeah, for sure it's definitely a good weekend for us. We proved already in Silverstone that what happened in the last three races was maybe a little bit the opposite of what we were facing in the last test at Silverstone. We came here, we found a similar car to last week so I think that's really encouraging and it looks like we're back fighting again. For sure it's very close all the time. If you look at the difference on the lap times, it was very close between us three, but it's good to be back fighting, it's good to be here and I'm really happy that we can have a good car tomorrow as well.

It was very very close. Talk us through those two very quick lap times of yours right at the end.
FM: On my first try, I just managed to do quite a good lap, but then I expected to improve a little bit on the second try but then on these tyres, especially on the soft tyres, you drive so much on the limit that if you are just over-driving a little bit, you just lose one tenth, a couple of tenths that you cannot recover again, so the last try is always the one, if you can make everything perfect, you improve a lot of lap time, but if you just try to over-drive a little bit you just make some mistakes.

Lewis, looks to be a slightly uneven weekend for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes so far; you lost a bit of time yesterday morning, as has Fernando. From your point of view, however, I guess it's good to be on the front row.
Lewis Hamilton: Absolutely. I think you can't be perfect all the time, but the team has done a fantastic job. The car was pretty sweet for the qualifying session. I had the car for pole and I lost a bit of time on turn 15. I was about a tenth and a half up, so I had it there but it would have been a mega lap. I lost a bit of time but that's the way the game goes but I'm very very happy. We're on the front row and I believe that we have a good strategy for tomorrow, so we will be very strong.

So what actually happened going into turn 15, talk us through that incident.
LH: I braked a little bit late, wanted a little bit more, and if you just try and take a little bit more you run a little bit wide, but still I managed to do a good time. I think I did better my previous time by half a tenth or something like that, so nevertheless it was a good lap but we just have to make sure we improve for next time. But as I said, it's been, I think, a steady weekend for us. We came into today's qualifying with good pace. I do believe we still have the pace of the Ferraris, at least, so we will see what happens tomorrow.

Kimi, good to have you back, first top three since the Spanish Grand Prix, part of this strong Ferrari recovery.
Kimi Raikkonen: Yes, it has been a bit of a hard time but that's how it is sometimes and we just try to improve the car all the time. As Felipe said, I think we had a good test, the car feels much better now, it seems to be more competitive. So far it has been a good weekend. Of course, we would rather be in first place but I think it's pretty close and we will see what happens in the race tomorrow.

How were the qualifying laps? Did you feel you got the best from the car?
KR: I think so. They are never perfect. I lost on one corner in the last try but that's just my fault and there's nothing else to complain about. I think the car is pretty good for the race so third is OK, and as I said, we would rather start in the front this year but anything can happen, it's a long race so we will see what happens tomorrow.

Felipe, you seem to have made a habit this year of basically finishing from where you started, so I guess for tomorrow you must be feeling reasonably optimistic.
FM: Hopefully it stays like in the beginning of the year: the guy who starts in the front finishes in the front. That would be great. Hopefully we can have a good race tomorrow. We already heard that maybe the rain will join us, so hopefully we can have a great car for whatever conditions.

Press Conference

You've all been fastest at some stage during the weekend, but Felipe, you made it count in the session that matters.
FM: Yeah, it was definitely great for us to be back and fighting. If you look at what's happened in the last races and if you look at the car we had in Silverstone and as I was also saying after the test, and also the car we found here today, I would not say we are completely in front of our competitors but at least we are back and fighting so that's really encouraging and I'm very happy to start again on pole position. I had a good lap, especially on the first try. On the second try, I just tried to over-drive a little bit and then I lost some small time. Sometimes when you try to be too aggressive, it doesn't work but on the first try, it was the pole lap so it was a good lap.

Can you feel the difference in the car?
FM: Yeah, for sure, a lot. We just have more grip, more consistency and the car is just behaving better due to the modifications we are doing, so it just looks like we have a little bit more downforce and that's the way it is.

And troublefree, all the way through the sessions?
FM: Yeah, in some sessions I was pretty happy with the balance, but I just couldn't put the lap together, let's say this morning and also in Q1. It was just finding some mistakes here and some mistakes there. I couldn't put the lap together but the balance was there, so I was sure that I had the possibilities to be on pole, because this time, even during the qualifying, I was sure that the balance was there. I just needed to put the lap together so fortunately I could manage to put in the right time.

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